Thursday, June 13, 2024

Board of Education Budget Questions

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Letter To The Editor

By: Grace Miron-Dominguez

Stratford High School

Editor’s Note:  The following letter was sent to Stratford’s Elected Officials by Grace Miron-Dominguez.  Ms. Dominguez is a student at Stratford High School.

Subject: A Letter For Your Consideration

Hello Council and Board of Education members,

I would like to share my thoughts about fully funding the Board of Education budget as proposed by Superintendent Osunde. I’m a Freshman at Stratford High School and have been interested in town issues that revolve around equity and education for 5 years now.

13 days ago, I spoke in front of the Ordinance Committee in support of this same issue.

I had a lot of questions after that meeting. So I asked my mom to see the Board of Ed budgets for the last few years.

After I looked at them, I still had a lot of questions.

First: I noticed that the expenses were very specific amounts. They didn’t look rounded to the nearest $10, $100 or $1000.

I asked how the Board of Education knew exactly how much these line items (new term for me) would be if they hadn’t happened yet. My mom had a long answer about accounting, fixed costs and the budget process.

It was helpful but I still had more questions.

For example: The Board of Education assumes what a lot of these costs are. But what happens if they don’t spend all the money they estimate they need for a particular category?

So I asked mom again.

She put it in terms I could understand. If the Board of Education doesn’t spend all the money that the town allocates to them, they give it back to the town and they save it for them. She said it’s like if she gives me money to go get a Hyper-Freeze from Cumberland Farms … I have to bring the change back. I can’t just willy-nilly go to Marshalls and buy a shirt with the change.

So I go back to the Board of Ed expenditures and budgets and I notice that there were savings, I’m told they are called surpluses, vs. what the Board of Ed projected in the last few years.

For example:

In 2019 the Board of Ed didn’t have a surplus.

In 2020 the Board of Ed had a surplus of over $700,000

In 2021 the Board of Ed has a surplus of over $1,000,000

I’m wondering why the town can’t just give the Board of Ed back the $1.7 million dollars that it saved from past years. Especially, since the Board of Education REALLY needs it now.

By returning the extra funding, didn’t the Board of Ed prove that they won’t spend the money on just anything? Doesn’t it say “Hey, we’re going to be careful with the money you give us and only spend it on what we need to?”

I think that it shows responsibility and honesty.

13 days ago at the Ordinance Committee meeting, I was shocked to hear that a speaker mentioned that this back and forth budget process is what always happens and we shouldn’t be surprised.

But just because we HAVE done it that way doesn’t mean that we SHOULD do it that way! Wouldn’t it be so much less stressful for people if we cut out all the jockeying for position and just did the right thing for those who don’t think they have a right to stand up and say anything?

These are huge numbers. I get that. But sometimes we need to spend money to make smart investments.

My education, my friend’s education, are WORTH it!

One of us could be someone who cures cancer, who composes a Grammy winning hit, an inventor who creates the next evolution of the Post-It note or a President of the United States.

But none of us can get there without a stellar education. Something that offers us cutting edge technology and support and guidance from our teachers. Something that doesn’t give teachers, families and students stress during every budget season.

Please take Superintendent Osyunde’s suggestion and fully fund our schools. Go above and beyond for my fellow students who NEED, who DESERVE nothing but the best from their education!

I turned 15 today, so in three short years I’ll be old enough to vote with hundreds of my fellow classmates. I urge you to give my thoughts the same consideration that you would give to any voter as I am on the front lines of this issue.

Thank you for your time,

Grace Miron-Dominguez

6 COMMENTS

  1. I can’t understand why the BOE budget has to increase every year. Why is it impossible to work with the same budget as last year. I’d love my social security to raise every year but it doesn’t, so I have to live within the budget I have. Enough already.

    • The Town Council approves increases in most departments each year, yet the BOE budget is the only one they push back on. Why is that ok? Inflation and needs increase in the BOE too. Why are they not prioritized each year like the Registrars office, CAO, Town Attorney and Planning and Zoning?

    • Hi Trish. I sincerely understand your concern, but the BOE’s costs go up every year due to salary increases that are contractual obligations, plus increases in costs—just like we’ve all been experiencing in our own homes. In fact, your Social Security payment should have gone up 8.7% starting in January 2023 due to a Cost-of-Living Adjustment. Every other department in Town gets an increase because of these things, why shouldn’t the schools get an increase, too?

  2. Brava, Grace! I attended school in Stratford all my life, graduated SHS in 2005. It’s been really sad to see that the Stratford school system has tanked over the years, and that the BOE can’t secure enough funding. It’s putting so many at a disadvantage. Don’t listen to the negativity and naysayers that complain about how THEY can’t get enough, so why should you. Education is supposed to be the bedrock of our society and government– this shouldn’t even be an issue. The split along party lines on funding the BOE is particularly telling.

  3. Trish our schools are in crisis. They are proposing to restore CUTS made. Do you have children? Sadly, our elected officials listen to voices like yours instead of the future of this town. Probably why the town is in such good shape.

  4. To boot, school attendance is down 28%. We need to find, and rescue our kids!! I think we may be substituting $$$ where personal commitment is actually the solution. The “budget debate” procedure has existed since the 1960s. Boiler plate procedure. Like haggling for a new car.

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